Scotland's charity chairs 'rate themselves higher than their chief executives'

Cranfield University research finds potential for tension

Differences in perception between chairmen and women and chief executives of Scottish charities are "a potential tension point within the Scottish third sector", according to a report by Cranfield University's school of management.

Boards, Governance and Leadership of the Third Sector: Scotland Study found that both chairs and chief executives were generally more positive than respondents to a similar survey of the Scottish public sector.

But it found that, among the 194 respondents, chairmen and women were much more positive than chief executives, especially in their perception of their own performance.

Chairs were more positive even in their assessment of the performance of chief executives. A significantly higher proportion thought they were "of a like mind" with their chief executive, and that their chief executive respected them and "visibly benefited" from their relationship.

The report's authors said chairmen and women typically rated themselves higher than chief executives in all such surveys, but the gap was much higher in the Scottish charity sector than in other sectors they have surveyed.

They said: "The chair is rated particularly well in terms of qualities and style by respondents, but chief officers tend to be less positive in their perceptions of the performance of the chair and the board in comparison to other respondents. Such tensions, if not addressed, could potentially have a detrimental effect on the way the organisation performs."

The survey also found that the under-40s and the over-60s were the most positive in their perceptions. Women were slightly more positive than men, while the most positive responses came from organisations with fewer than five or more than 50 employees.

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